Judge: California Gun Owner’s ‘Tyrant Registry’ Protected Under First Amendment

(Photo: Reuters/Joshua Lott)

Savor this, Californians. It isn’t every day we have good news from The Golden State.

A federal judge in California ruled this week that the First Amendment protects the publication of anti-gun state legislators’ personal information, as long as that information is already publically available.

A pro-gun blogger writing under the pseudonym “Doe Publius” published on his blog what he called a “tyrant registry”: the names, telephone numbers, and home addresses of 40 anti-gun California legislators.

“If you’re a gun owner in California, the government knows where you live,” he said in his post, according to official court documents. “Isn’t it about time to register these tyrants with gun owners?”

California state officials were not amused. The state legislative counsel ordered WordPress, the company that hosts Publius’s site, to remove the post, citing a state law that restricts publication of government officials’ personal information. They also claimed that several state legislators had received threatening phone calls to their homes since the publication of the list.

WordPress complied, and Publius, along with another blogger who re-posted the “tyrant registry,” sued the state on First Amendment grounds.

They argued that because Publius only published publically available information, the registry is protected under First Amendment speech. The registry is further protected, they argued, because it is a political statement responding to California’s recent legislation that creates a registry for those who purchase ammunition.

The courts agreed. Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California sided with Publius, finding that the plaintiffs are “likely to succeed” in their First Amendment claims.

“The legislators’ home address and telephone number touch on matters of public concern,” the judge said in the 38-page opinion.

“There is no dispute that Plaintiffs lawfully obtained and truthfully published information that was readily available online,” O’Neill continued. “When lawfully obtained, the truthful publication of that information falls within the First Amendment’s ambit.”

Publius responded to the decision on Monday, saying in a blog post that the victory is about more than his personal freedoms: the court’s decision is “a win for freedom of speech and political protest, and most importantly a win for those Californians who have had their civil rights and liberties violated by our state legislators for simply wanting to exercise their fundamental right to keep and bear arms,” he said.

“Much like the Sex Offender Registry, this common sense tyrant registration addresses a public safety hazard alerting the public of tyrants who have violated the civil rights and liberties of people in their communities.”

California has until March 10 to decide whether or not it wants to continue the fight. A spokesman from the state legislature told the Associated Press that they’re evaluating their next steps.

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Virginia Concealed Carry Class March 23, 2018, 4:38 am

    A federal judge in California ruled this week that the First Amendment protects the publication of anti-gun state legislators’ personal information, as long as that information is already publically available,It\’s very informative.

  • johnsmith November 24, 2017, 4:21 pm

    Hey, take it easy on us subjects of “The Peoples Leftern Fascist RepublicK of Socialist DamnmuckRATyuck
    KAKAlicKAnforniKAtinIstan”. We have a guvnir who’s had to live with the handle of ‘Moonbeam’ for the
    last 40 years or so. Give us a break, ‘r sumptin, but please feel free to re-educate as many of the Fornicatin St leftists you wish. It’d all be for a good cause.

  • Virginia Concealed Carry Class September 15, 2017, 7:39 am

    Agree your thoughts.

  • Twicebitten March 13, 2017, 7:17 am

    No wonder nothing is ever done in govt. It took 38 pages to publish this…..

    ““There is no dispute that Plaintiffs lawfully obtained and truthfully published information that was readily available online,” O’Neill continued. “When lawfully obtained, the truthful publication of that information falls within the First Amendment’s ambit.”

    I would have gone further……even if unlawfully obtained, they are govt servants and people should be able to publish the names/addresses/phone numbers of special interest groups (read govt) that target our Constitutional rights.

  • Patriot March 11, 2017, 9:03 pm

    The sorry damn fake news media that is politically tied to Bloomberg and Soros
    as well as OBAMA, Pelosi and Schuler are doing and saying all they can to help the
    Dems and harass and degrade the Republicans, especially President Trump. The Dems
    would change the United States to a much more socialist country and much
    more similar to North Korea and Russia. The news media is not apprehensive
    about lying either on TV or printed news to try to restore power to Dems and
    obstruct the Republicans. I am glad to hear the fake news media will probably
    publish the voting record and anti-gun attitude of California politicians, such
    as Gov. Brown, Pelosi, Feinstein and Boxer. It would be nice to see these gun-controllers
    VOTED OUT and California restored to a state that has Constitutional rights. It would also
    be nice to see the Republican-hating media do what is right instead of doing what Pelosi,
    Bloomberg and Soros tell them to do.

    • C.G.A. November 24, 2017, 3:04 pm

      In order to vote them out, you need a majority. Unfortunately, California has a majority of coastal elite libtards and hollywierdos. We need a new state – East California – which would encompass the area from I-5 on the west form Oregon to the northern start of the grapevine and east to the CA,NV,AZ border. Then Sacramento could be the capitol and West California can have their capitol in San Fransicko or Hollywierd or Lost Angeles, and they can go begging for their water which we would keep in East California. Then we could put up a border wall to keep them and their sanctuary state protected ILLEGAL aliens out .

  • Archangel March 11, 2017, 1:26 am

    Where can we get a copy of that list?

  • Mike Watkins March 10, 2017, 10:49 pm

    This is GREAT! Got to applaud the guys who came up with this. There have been anuses in various places who took it upon themselves to publish the names etc of concealed carry licensees, so turnabout’s fair play, right?

    Hard to believe a court approved it. But I bet Doe Publius and his compadres reap some harassment from the authorities over it.

  • Curly March 10, 2017, 3:59 pm

    It is about time these so called leaders have to abide by the same rules as the people that gave them the job that they use for their own greed and power. This is a start, but does not go nearly far enough. These corrupt weasels need to be held to account for all their lies and actions!!

  • Robert March 10, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Legislators are, first and foremost, representatives of the people, a fact many in government today seem to have forgotten. We’ve devolved to the point where we have governments made up of privileged elitists, who go to great lengths to insulate themselves from the commoners, This decision is, for them, a reality check, in that they must actually face the people they govern. They cannot be allowed to remain above, or separate from, the ‘little people’.

  • Sheik March 10, 2017, 2:00 pm

    I’m very happy to hear that California residents took the initiative to prepare and publish this “Tyrant List”. I’m emboldened to start one in my state, and strongly recommend all states have such a list prepared by those who support the Second Amendment. Perhaps include this recommendation in the NRA-ILA. It’s way overdue for us to fight back using every legal means at our disposal.

  • elnonio March 10, 2017, 1:54 pm

    Wrong result. Just like it is wrong to publish names of CC holders. Publishing the private residence address serves no public interest.

    That a federal court in California agrees to the publication should tell you right there that it’s the wrong decision. Think about it for second.

    • Retrocon March 10, 2017, 9:12 am

      I will take issue here. Number one, it was publicly available, so Doe was just aggregating it. Secondly, it is EXACTLY. The reason that the first, second, and all the rest of the amendments exist, to allow speech, firearms, and privacy that are politically opposed to government.

      Your analogy of CC permit holders does not apply. The CC holders are exercising a right, and are not elected officials, so their privacy is protected. By being elected, the politicians are accountable, and speech directed at their actions, like listing their publicly available information and calling them tyrants, is THE definition of protected speech.

    • Eric Haulenbeek March 10, 2017, 9:20 am

      No, the result was proper. Surely you can see the difference between the privacy privilege of a citizen CC holder as opposed to posting the names and addresses of publicly elected representatives whose addresses are already available on State sites. When a person chooses to represent the citizens of his district he is expected to be approachable as a member of his community, as a neighbor… unless he’s a liberal Democrat who’s only interested in whatever he can stuff in his own pocket!

    • Chris Baker March 10, 2017, 9:33 am

      How can it be wrong if the information is already available to the public? All Doe Publius is doing is gathering and collating the information for the convenience of his readers. People should know when their public officials and representatives violate their oaths of office and that is what he’s doing. That he called them tyrants is protected political discourse.

    • Ed H. March 10, 2017, 9:59 am

      IMHO, this is a correct result under the concept of Equal Under the Law. Lawmakers are not to be exempt from the laws they pass. The “tyrant registry” is a directly equivalent and proportional response to the laws these particular lawmakers created. They are receiving exactly what they created. If it is morally wrong for a registry they’re listed in to exist (it is), then it is equally wrong for them to create a registry of law abiding citizens (it is).

      In short, sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander. And they fully deserve to be stewing in that sauce. They’re now stewing in the sauce they created.

    • deanbob March 10, 2017, 12:02 pm

      “They also claimed that several state legislators had received threatening phone calls to their homes since the publication of the list.”

      How much do these same legislators do to protect private citizens from the anarchists who publish home addresses and unpublished phone numbers of private citizens?

      Not all of California’s judges share the same ideology as the majority of those on the 9th Circuit Court.

    • Sheik March 10, 2017, 9:02 pm

      I strongly disagree. When politicians use the legal system and their “bully pulpits” to push their anti-2A philosophies and jeopardize the civil rights of law abiding citizens, we MUST push back with every legal means at our disposal. Not doing so CONSISTENTLY will always result in more states becoming another CA/IL/MA/CT/NY/NJ/MD etc. We risk having the Second Amendment die a “death by a thousand cuts” as these tyrants whittle away, as we sit on the sidelines and complain among ourselves. We must all become much more proactive and resist EVERY anti-2A and so-called “gun control” initiative. I’ve actually heard pro-2A folks in NY and elsewhere refer to MSR’s as “Assault Rifles” instead of educating people on the distinction between the AR15 Modern Sporting Rifle and actual “Assault Rifles” which are fully automatic.

  • Mike Price March 10, 2017, 10:15 am

    Yeah, I like that bill. Maybe we need one to limit “protests” to one a month in stead of every other day.

    • deanbob March 10, 2017, 12:04 pm

      ..or, at least require they post surety bonds to cover any and all expenses associated with their activities.

  • Rick March 10, 2017, 7:43 am

    The 9th circuit court is nothing but a joke. 86% of there decisions are over turned by the U.S. Supreme Court….

  • Mike March 10, 2017, 7:26 am

    that’s really all I wanted to say.

  • JG Smerda March 10, 2017, 5:59 am

    The Republic of Calipornia has long lost it’s remaining notochord. My only question is this: why are there so many spineless Americans in the State of Confusion? Why is it that Rights granted by the Constitution of the United States are infringed upon specifically in certain Democrat-run bankrupted States? Oh, Nancy Pelosi… Gotcha, say no more.

  • Blasted Cap March 10, 2017, 4:48 am

    I’m sure the legislature will spend as much of the tax payers money as they can to get the decision overturned. 9th Circus, is next. If that fails then the Supreme Court.

  • Luke March 10, 2017, 4:17 am

    Let’s see now. . . . “they’re evaluating their next steps.” One of their next steps will likely be to publish a registry of carry permits and/or AR owners & addresses like that ‘newspaper boy’ did in the New York area back in 2012. Remember how that played out? People without weapons were concern that, by publishing that information, households without registered guns would be targeted by thieves: I guess the anti-gun hobbiests didn’t think too far ahead, eh? It’s really interesting (and tragic) how these vindictive assholes use the Bill of Rights and the Constitution to beat people up and then complain when there’s push-back. ‘Makes me wonder how much longer it’ll be before the law doesn’t matter anymore to a large enough group of militant gun owners. Scary stuff. It might’ve happened sooner than later had hillary been elected.

    • Rick March 10, 2017, 7:37 am

      Registry of carry permits and/or AR owners is not public information…

      • Ed H. March 10, 2017, 10:05 am

        Rick, Are you talking about the law in California regarding the registry of ammo purchasers?

        The newspapers that published concealed carry lists got that information from the respective governments the same way any other member of the public could get them. Those names and addresses were considered by the governments to be “public information.”

  • Bryon Ensmingr March 10, 2017, 3:28 am

    If your gonna work aginst the constitution and public safety, you shouldn’t be able to hide your identity

  • Con Over March 6, 2017, 10:20 am

    where, and how, may I obtain said “Tyrant List”?

    • Dr. Strangelove March 10, 2017, 5:21 am

      I’d look on the internet, myself.

  • IYearn4nARnCali March 5, 2017, 12:58 am

    These California politicians who infringe their constituents rights every day, should be treated like other types of offenders, once on the list, requires oversight by federal authorities who okay ALL future legislation by these snipes. hehehehe I know that puts wholesale boot prints in states rights, I just want to see what it might sound like, as I know it would have deleterious side effects.

    Perhaps, once on the registry, you are blocked from ALL future legislation until such time as your work is in keeping the integrity of your constituents civil rights intact, if not increasing it.

  • loupgarous March 3, 2017, 6:15 pm

    I think it’s a reciprocal act against a State Legislature which daily abuses gun owners’ rights under the Constitution of the United States of America. Laws infringing the right to keep and bear arms and registries of people who purchase ammunition are a much greater threat to the safety and rights of law-abiding gun owners than a “tyrant registry”. If the lawmakers listed on this registry feel threatened, they are just now feeling what their victims, law-abiding gun owners in their state, feel every time the state government of California infringes their civil right to keep and bear arms..

  • DRAINO March 3, 2017, 3:41 pm

    Gee….even Kalifornia can get one right…????? Has Hell frozen over????? Who would have ever thought?! Well done, Mr Publius!! Well played. Maybe more common sense will start prevailing in the communist states. But I doubt it.

    AMERICANISM!!! NOT Globalism!!!!!

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